Romania: EC accepts Transgaz’ commitments to facilitate gas exports from Romania, SEE Energy News
The European Commission (EC) launched a formal investigation in June 2017 to assess whether Transgaz infringed EU antitrust rules by restricting exports of natural gas from Romania. In particular, the Commission was concerned that Transgaz may have carried out such restrictions by: underinvesting in or delaying construction of infrastructure for gas exports; interconnection tariffs for gas exports that made exports commercially unviable and by using unfounded technical arguments as a pretext for restricting exports. The EC announced that it has made commitments offered by Romanian natural gas transmission system operator Transgaz legally binding under EU antitrust rules. The company will make available to the market significant firm capacities for natural gas exports from Romania to neighboring member states, in particular Hungary and Bulgaria.
These restrictions may have maintained or created barriers to the cross-border flow of natural gas from Romania, one of the EU’s largest natural gas producers, to Hungary and Bulgaria, contrary to the objective of an integrated Energy Union where energy flows freely across borders directed by competitive forces and based on the best possible use of resources.
Following the opening of the formal investigation, Transgaz offered commitments to address the Commission’s concerns. The final commitments will ensure that market participants can access significant volumes of export capacities via the interconnection points between Romania and neighboring member states. More specifically, Transgaz has committed:
– to make available minimum export capacities of 1.75 billion cubic meters per year at the interconnection point between Romania and Hungary (Csanadpalota). This capacity is equivalent to around one sixth of Hungary’s annual gas consumption;
– to make available minimum export capacities totaling 3.7 billion cubic meters per year at two interconnection points between Romania and Bulgaria (Giurgiu/Ruse and Negru Voda I/Kardam). This capacity covers more than half of Bulgaria and Greece’s annual gas consumption;
– to ensure that its tariff proposals to the Romanian national energy regulator (ANRE) will not discriminate between export and domestic tariffs in order to avoid interconnection tariffs that would make exports commercially unviable;
– to refrain from using any other means of hindering exports.
The final commitments provide for significant additional capacity compared to the market-tested commitments, in particular to Hungary, by including capacities envisaged for the Romanian section of the first phase of the Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria (BRHA) gas pipeline project. As a result, Transgaz’ participation in this project will also be subject to legally binding deadlines.
The commitments will remain in force until 31 December 2026. A trustee will be in charge of monitoring the implementation and compliance with the commitments. The Commission has concluded that the amended commitments address the identified competition concerns and therefore has made them legally binding on Transgaz.